Race to Remember

The agony and ecstasy of nearly winning the new daytime game show Name That Tune Live!

I knew my Devo. I had the Beach Boys down. And, as much as I hate to admit, those Britney Spears tunes I can’t stand? That was covered, too. And they all brought me this close to 10,000 smackaroos.

For years I’ve joked that if the game show Name That Tune was still on television, I’d kick so much ass. Thanks to a live stage version that premiered at the Imperial Palace in August, I finally got my chance to tap my mental encyclopedia of song snippets.

My confidence skyrocketed when the other attendees appeared to be a combination of retirees and a boisterous birthday group. Plus on the Saturday afternoon I attended, the nearly 700-seat theater was barely half-full. Maybe the $55 ticket price was a bit too steep for a mid-afternoon show. Either way, the odds were looking to be in my favor.

A brief video history of Name That Tune kicked off the show. Next, hosts Chris Phillips and Marley Taylor of local musical duo Zowie Bowie launched into a medley of popular tunes. (Their various hosting duties would include witty banter, performing musical interludes between rounds and singing along to some of the contest songs.) I squirmed in my seat during the first round of competition. I knew most of the songs, and had to squelch the urge to call them out. It helped to know that there would be multiple “first rounds,” allowing up to 50 people to participate, even though only 10 would continue to Round 2.

My name was called (rejoice!), and I took the stage with nine other contestants. DJ Jimmy Z dropped a sample of the first song, and I went on autopilot. Now, I can’t recall the tune, but I knew it at the time and was the first to get a point. “Whip It” followed, and again, I was the fastest on the buzzer. Right away, I had earned my two points to move on to the next round. Boom!

Round 2 pitted players head-to-head in a contest that was proving to span the gamut of genres and decades. I psyched out my competition by threatening to name a song in one second. And I did. Boom again.

Winnowed down to one of five contestants, I found myself behind a giant white board, scribbling furiously as Jimmy Z dropped 10 tracks in a matter of moments. That’s when it happened: a tie between the aforementioned birthday girl and myself. Down to the wire, I didn’t quite hit the buzzer fast enough and lost. Well, I did win a free ticket to see Frank Marino, but it’s not the same as 10 grand. There was some consolation in watching the birthday girl totally blow the last round where she had a minute to name a slew of songs. Happy Birthday to us both.

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